Rough Magic: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (Paperback)

Rough Magic: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder By Miranda Newman Cover Image

Rough Magic: Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (Paperback)


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A harrowing but ultimately uplifting memoir about living with borderline personality disorder—the most stigmatized diagnosis in mental health.

“I didn’t know whether to take you to a psychologist or an exorcist.”

This is how Miranda Newman’s mother described the experience of trying to find an explanation for her daughter’s behaviour. It would be years before Miranda was able to find a diagnosis that explained the complicated way she moved through the world. She would have to advocate for herself in the mental health system while dealing with abuse, being unhoused, survival sex, suicide attempts and hospitalizations.

Through it all, Miranda has found strength in her diagnosis. Her recollections are visceral and confessional, but also self-aware, irreverent and funny. She tells readers how she has found strength and joy in what others might see as tragic, while bolstering her personal recollections with deeply researched observations on Canada’s mental healthcare system, and the history of diagnostics and disorder, using research supported by her work at Yale University.
MIRANDA NEWMAN is a writer and editor based in Toronto. She lives with BPD, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Her lived experience informs her writing on topics related to mental health and trauma.
Her work has appeared in The Walrus, Literary Review of Canada, Broadview, Xtra, Montreal Gazette, and elsewhere. Her feature, “Kids in Crisis,” received an Honourable Mention from the National Magazine Awards. She also publishes Life as a Lunatic, a newsletter about coping with symptoms related to trauma and mental illness. In 2022, Miranda was a Fellow at Yale University's program for recovery and community health.
Product Details ISBN: 9780771006760
ISBN-10: 0771006764
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: April 16th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English
“Ever since I heard that the writer of the Substack newsletter Life as a Lunatic was coming out with a book, I knew it was going to be amazing—visceral, honest, compelling. Miranda Newman’s memoir, about living with borderline personality disorder, does two critical things by combining raw and witty narrative with fact-based analysis: it shares a personal account of navigating the unnecessarily complex mental healthcare system in Canada and sheds light on the often stigmatized disorder. It’s books like this one that help make much-needed social and public policy changes.”
—Sheima Benembarek, author of Halal Sex

“In society’s recent rush to de-stigmatize mental illness, the benefits seem to accrue disproportionately to people with anxiety and depression—what Miranda Newman wryly calls the ‘softer’ diagnoses. When we leave less well understood conditions like borderline personality disorder out of our newfound compassion, we haven’t grown—we’ve just slightly shifted the boundaries between who is crazy and who is sane. Rough Magic is an important work in pushing back against this trend—gently but firmly asking the reader to put themselves in the shoes of people with BPD and come for a walk. Newman is a capable and experienced guide through this terrain, deftly interweaving poetic recountings of a lifetime of her own experiences with a rigorous and detailed analysis of BPD, from its troubled beginning as a form of non-diagnosis to its disappointing present as a highly stigmatized illness doctors are afraid to even diagnose, while making room for a future full of growth and healing at the personal, institutional, and societal levels.”
—Alex Manley, author of The New Masculinity

"There are so few memoirs like Rough Magic: intimate, perspicacious, heartbreaking, and ultimately, hopeful. Miranda Newman is an exceptional, fearless storyteller. We've been waiting for a writer like her, and finally, here she is."
—Scaachi Koul, author of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

"Equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful, Miranda Newman’s revelatory Rough Magic gives readers generous insight into an oft-misunderstood diagnosis. Blending personal history and broader cultural insight, Newman breaks down stigma, combats myths, and deftly reveals both the struggles and unexpected joys of living with BPD. Brimming with life, this brave, beautiful, and deeply moving book will stay with you long after you're done. Rough Magic is a genuine triumph."
—Stacey May Fowles, author of The Invitation and Baseball Life Advice

"Rough Magic is at once an honest, heartfelt memoir and a piece of incisive nonfiction—both facets combine to present a riveting account of an often misunderstood disorder penned with bracing sincerity by Miranda Newman, who has lived-in experience."
—Craig Davidson, author of Cascade